Jefferson's democracy

Franklin Jefferson's thoughts on the world

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Why I love a divided government!

Ah, this is why I love a divided government!

For six years President Bush has been signing budgets without a single comment (much less ever vetoing a budget) about the fact that the Republican Congress has been stuffing into the budget as much pork-barrel spending as they could grab. With the undivided government, the Republican party turned into the spend-spend-spend party, and budget deficits have taken gargantuan proportions.

But now, the instant that a Democrat congress is about to take office, Bush comes out with a major statement condemning pork-barrel budgets!

I love it! Yes!

Bush is actually turning into a Republican!

Cut down pet projects in budgets, Bush says
Posted 12/16/2006 10:07 AM ET

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush said Saturday that his administration will outline a series of changes that would clamp down on the common Capitol Hill practice of slipping pet projects into spending bills.

[Sure. And in the six years of Republican Congress, how is it he never hinted at any desire to clamp down on pork barrel spending?]

These projects, called earmarks, are spending provisions that often are put into bills at the last minute, so they never get debated or discussed, Bush said in his weekly radio address.

"It is not surprising that this often leads to unnecessary federal spending, such as a swimming pool or a teapot museum tucked into a big spending bill," he said.

The president said his administration's proposal would make earmarks more transparent, make lawmakers more accountable for the earmarks they propose, and help reduce the overall number of earmarks.

Many lawmakers claim they are better suited than others in government to know what their states need. Bush said the use of earmarks has exploded, and pointed to a Congressional Research Service report that the number of earmarks has increased from about 3,000 in 1996 [i.e., under Democrats] to 13,000 this year [under Republicans].

"I respect Congress' authority over the public purse, but the time has come to reform the earmark process and dramatically reduce the number of earmarks," Bush said.

Democrats, who will take control of Congress on Jan. 4, already announced their plan to wipe out billions of dollars in lawmakers' home-state projects in unfinished spending bills. On Monday, the incoming Democratic chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations committees announced that they would eliminate earmarks from the nine unfinished spending bills for the budget year that began Oct. 1.

Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., and Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., said they would restore earmarking in the upcoming 2008 budget cycle, but only after implementing changes. Obey said he was pleased that the president supports their plan.

"But it should be noted that all of the earmarks combined don't begin to match the increase in the deficit caused by the president wasting $50 billion in supersized tax cuts for those making more than $1 million a year while other Americans sleep on the streets," Obey said.

This summer, Republicans announced changes to require spending bills to carry lists of earmarks and their sponsors.
[The author neglected to note here that this "change" enacted did not apply to this year's spending, only to next year]
That's a good start, Bush said, but more needs to be done by both parties.

"Republicans and Democrats alike have an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to spending restraint and good government by making earmark reform a top priority for the next Congress," Bush said. "When it comes to spending your money, you expect us to rise above party labels."

Byrd said any effort to change the way business gets done in Washington cannot begin and end with the appropriations process.

"We also must address earmarks in the tax codes which have resulted in huge loopholes for corporate America while middle-class America is left holding the bag," Byrd said.



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